*The A’s will probably finish with one of the 15 best records in baseball this year. So, this was the year to invest in a Type A free agent, when it wouldn’t cost a first-rounder.
*Next year, the team will have the flexibility to offer Cabrera arbitration, if a better shortstop replacement hasn’t presented itself internally (which is very likely, unfortunately).
*If another team suffers a shortstop injury this spring and Bobby Crosby magically develops trade value, he may garner the equivalent value of the second-round pick (approximately #60-63) in return via trade.
*If Mark Ellis winds up on the shelf for an extended period of time, the A’s still have two starting middle infielders to open the season. In this scenario, I’d imagine Cabrera would be the one who shifted over to 2b, even though he’s the better defender.
*Having Crosby as the team’s backup MIF for the time being is a slight upgrade over Pennington/Petit, even if we’re only talking 1/2 a win. Perhaps more importantly, it allows the team to start Pennington and Petit in Sacramento so that they can continue to get daily at-bats. It’s still possible one of that duo will be the team’s opening-day 2010 shortstop.
Comment by Jacob Jackson — March 2, 2009 @ 4:28 pm
I think projecting Crosby for a full season is a bit disingenuous. I don’t think anyone projects Nick Johnson for a full season worth of PT, and Crosby hasn’t been much healthier than him. Everyone will point to last season, but that looks like more of an outlier then his other seasons.
I would peg him squarely at replacement level, maybe 3-4 runs above if you want to be generous. I think this is much closer to a 2 win upgrade than a 1.
I trust your final analysis, but am a little confused by the math. If we’re talking about wins above replacement player, why does any positional adjustment enter into the conversation? Doesn’t a “replacement level shortstop” get the same positional bump Cabrera or Crosby get?
He was 1 WAR last year. Yes, he was healthy for the first time in a while and got almost 600 PA, but he was also beyond terrible offensively to the tune of a .288 wOBA. He can expect to miss time next year, however he should also improve on offense unless he is actually as bad as Ceasar Izturis. CHONE projects him for a .296 wOBA which over, lets say 450 PA appearances, would be -12.75 runs offensively.
He has been slightly above average on defense each of the last 3 years. I would call him a +1.5 run defender, which is basically last years total over 450 PA. Give him a positional adjustment of +4.8 runs for 450 PA at short and a replacement level adjustment of +15 runs and he is almost exactly a 1 WAR player.
Than again with Crosby, there is the possibility that he will miss half of the year or perform as badly as he did last year offensively. But I think that you can reasonably project him to duplicate last years performance.
Comment by vivaelpujols — March 3, 2009 @ 12:14 am
Check out Dave’s series on explaining and calculating Win Values. If you click on the Glossary link in the upper right hand corner of the page, then scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find them. It’s good reading and makes this sort of analysis crystal clear.
Sorry to be a grammar policeman, but “shifted it’s focus” should be “shifted its focus.” The content is of such high quality that I hate to see blemishes of the it’s (“it is”) vs. its (possessive form of “it”) variety.
Thanks for the interesting analysis again. As a neophyte baseball student, I’ve been following your analyses here and at USSM with admiration. I see the argument for Orlando Cabrera as a 1.5-25 win player over Bobby Crosby as a .85 ~1 win player. Others have alluded to additional benefits for the A’s in possible trades, Mr. Crosby as a backup infielder elsewhere and insurance against injury (which really works both ways as Mr. Crosby backs up an injury to Mr. Cabrera).
I wonder whether there is also an additional statistical benefit, as vivaelpujols alludes, to having two players with abilities that are not greatly separated in that if we posit a bell shaped curve of performance with a center around 2 for Mr. Cabrera and a center around 1 for Mr. Cabrera, the A’s actual chance of getting 1.5 to 2.5 win performance out of the position now becomes the sum of the chances of Messieurs Crosby and Cabrera performing in that range, rather than just the chance one of them does.
I’m with you 100%, but grammar police don’t get any love around here.
Comment by christopher miller — March 3, 2009 @ 12:49 pm
I don’t think it would be sum. That’s basically because they both can’t get regular PT. If Cabrera goes down while on the path to a 2 Win performance, what are the chances a cold Crosby, who’s had very few ABs sense ST, comes in and continues that trajectory? To me it would seem small, and not just that, but smaller than Crosby’s chance to hit 2 Wins all by himself. Though its obviously much higher than it would be with a regular utility infielder as a back up.
I also agree with Graham. Projecting Crosby to play 145 games again is probably not very realistic. James predicts 149, but CHONE predicts 120. So lets use the average at 135 (which is still a lot higher than his career average 114 games/season). Cabrera is predicted at 152 (again using the average). So that’s 17 games Cabrera is not replacing Crosby, but Pennington (who is really dreadful).
Lastly, I don’t think the A’s should be trading Crosby unless it is part of a package for a player than can help the big league club in 2009. The A’s are obviously in win now mode and with Holliday leaving at the end of the year it might not continue into 2010. So, you might as well keep Crosby on as a back up if you can’t get any big league help.
On a slightly related side note, i have been wondering about something for some time now and I figure bringing up here is as good as anything, given I’m not going to actually do anything about it. Anyways…. My question is this, we tend to think of individual’s players worth in terms of +5 runs in the field and +10 in offense, this means they have a linear relationship with any team they join (it just adds whether they go to Oakland or Phillie). But is that really the case? If you add a good defender to an already good defensive team isn’t the effect going to be increased because fewer runners are on the base paths to begin with (and the same thing can be said about hitting)? For example, saving 10 runs on a team with an already low RA is going to give you more wins than saving 10 runs on a team with a high RA. Just for example a +10 defender by the pythag is going to be worth 1.14 wins to a previously 700 RA/800 RS team, vs. being worth .89 wins to a previously 900 RA/ 800 RS team. That’s a .25 win swing, that would seem significant when we’re doing these team specific analysis (I realize a 200 Run difference is a lot, but it is seen). Particularly when you figure the player’s bat could have an equal, and often larger effect.
Probably not a straight sum, although BC might not be totally cold.
“I’ll predict that Bobby stays with the team as the primary middle infield backup and that he gets a fair amount of playing time, as he is probably still a better backup than Cliff Pennington or even Jack Hannahan at this point.” Taj Adib at Athletics Nation
However, BC’s hitting seems even to my ignorant eyes to have been consistently bad for 3 years now from looking at his player page, so I imagine his bell curve is approximately a spike with near 0 chance of reaching 2 wins and doesn’t help the A’s chance of getting two wins out of the position. When looking at OC’s page, I see that he is averaging almost 3.5 wins over the last 4 years, so I reject my own argument in this case.
There may be cases where having two players of similar ability may improve the possibility of obtaining a certain level of performance, but that is clearly not the case here. Furthermore, it is the sort of thing that is a lot easier to do on a Yankees than an A’s budget.
If I were to be defensive, which I would never do because that would be bad, and if OC and BC were more comparable, I would argue that you are creating the worst case scenario though. There are many others:
OC injured early;
OC doesn’t play worth 2 wins early;
BC gets enough playing time to keep warm, OC injured late;
OC and BC share PT
Having OC in the mix would give BC fewer games, but injuries seem unpredictable, so BC would be as likely to get injured in games 65-82 as 135-152, so I agree with your argument.
That is an excellent point. The run to win conversion is usually a lot less in a lower scoring environment. I would be really interested to see the exact stats on that.
Comment by vivaelpujols — March 3, 2009 @ 10:04 pm
I fear that you’re using the basic Pythagorean formula which doesn’t properly handle differing scoring environments and that you accidentally added 10 to the scoring ledger instead of subtracting 10 from the defensive ledger in the 700 RS/800 RA example because I came up with identical results when I did the same.
Also, you’re fat.
Comment by Johnny Dickshot — March 4, 2009 @ 3:53 am
Or anywhere. The sooner you’ll realize that, the better.
Comment by Johnny Dickshot — March 4, 2009 @ 4:59 am
I understand the pythag method is pretty simplistic, but isn’t the basic result still valid? A marginal run saved is going to be worth more in a lower scoring environment (either from park or league or even team specific factors). So, if Cabrera goes to the A’s, isn’t his +10 defense worth more than if he was playing in Colorado? I realize I’m assuming his defense stays at +10, which it may very well not. Maybe the larger number of balls in play would increase that. But that is essentially my question. We have started rating players on these +/- systems, giving some sort of win value to the runs they save, so isn’t the next step being a little more accurate and being able to figure exactly what these players are worth in different environments? I think its pretty obvious that two players (assume the same position) where one is +20/-20 (defense/offense) and the other is -20/+20 are going to worth different amounts of wins depending on the environment they play in. But when we just add them up they would appear to be the same…. Maybe this has already been addressed, but if so, I haven’t seen it.
Also, no I didn’t add 10 to the RS, maybe it was a rounding error in one, or both, of our calculations that gave the same results?
Well it wouldn’t change the way that we value players. A crappy defender would be technically account for more wins in Oakland than he would in Colorado, however he would theoretically still have the same difference in terms of wins as an excellent defender like Cabrera.